In general, I consider myself to be a pretty decent sort of person.
I try to be nice to people whenever I can, and sure, I have days where I’m moody and irritated for what could be a multitude of reasons, but generally, I think I’m okay. I’m not some ticking time-bomb of rage just waiting to unleash upon some poor unsuspecting innocent civilian… most of the time.
When people first meet me, this might not be apparent.
I suffer from a condition known as ‘Chronic Resting Bitch-Face.’ I’d seen the term floating around on the internet before, and was easily able to make the connection, and I realized that most of the symptoms fit me.
Basically, unless I’ve put effort into smiling at or about something, I always look like I’m in an early phase of anger or annoyance, though I prefer to refer to it as being “stern.” It’s just how my face is. It is my natural expression, for reasons completely beyond my comprehension. I was born this way. I was probably a pretty solemn looking baby and a downright severe toddler.
I am one of those people who type ‘lol’ in a text or email when really, I didn’t so much as crack a smile. I am inwardly expressive, more so than outwardly. I internally sobbed during the Red Wedding, but no physical tears…well, maybe a few. Often, I will be asked, “Are you okay?” to which I normally respond with some variation of, “Yes, I’m fine.” Usually, that response is pretty accurate.
This is sometimes followed by another question of, “Are you sure you’re fine?” with the occasional add-on of, “You look kind of angry” or, one memorable, “Who pissed in your cheerios this morning?” That’s the equivalent of telling someone “You look tired,” when really, they mean, “Wow, you look terrible.”
And then I spend a good thirty seconds assuring the person that I really am NOT angry. It’s just my face. And these conversations often leave me irritated, so in the end, pretty counterproductive.
When I studied abroad in England during the summer of 2011, I did not know my roommate very well at the start of the term. We’d met before, and were on speaking terms, but weren’t really friends yet. I did not find out until a couple of weeks into our classes, after we’d become good friends during our travels and studies, that she was afraid to talk to me in the morning because I “look angry” when I first wake up. I’m not exactly a morning person, but I didn’t realize that translated onto my face as anger.
That was when I realized that I had a “condition.”
This happened before that moment, as well. I found out in high school that a girl I ran track with, who was far more popular than me but very nice and a great teammate, was at first too intimidated to speak to me because of how I carry myself and my facial expressions. I have also had friends confess to me over the years that before we officially met, they were literally “afraid” to converse with me. AFRAID. Like I’m Jason Voorhies and they’re a camp full of idiotic teenagers.
That was when I realized that while I may not be a naturally angry person, I sure do look like one. Even though if I were to be a Pokemon, I’d probably be a Jigglypuff. That’s how intimidating I should seem, though apparently, people perceive me more as a Tyranitar.
I have had a lot of time to reflect on this – and to observe my reflection in the mirror, to try and understand what other folks are seeing. I realize that the way I see myself often clashes with the way others see me. And it’s something that I have been forced to accept about myself, because unfortunately, I do not believe there is a known cure for Chronic Resting Bitch-Face. I have been putting effort into being more expressive when I am feeling positive emotions, but I get nasty headaches if I laugh or smile too much over the course of the day. Kind of like being allergic to happiness.
I am not the only sufferer of the Bitch-Face epidemic. It has claimed many, all across the world. It affects men and women alike. It takes no prisoners. I feel you, my Bitch-Face suffering brethren. I am forced to promise people that I’m not angry with them on an almost daily basis. Someday, maybe there will be a cure. Or at least, some kind of treatment, for those of us who REALLY ARE FINE, and we’re not angry, we promise.
Until then, I will continue to internally smile, until perhaps someday, it will reflect on my face, and I hope that when I say that I am fine, people will eventually believe me.